Everlasting Contempt, Undying Worms, and Crab People

Daniel 12:2 reads,

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 
Daniel 12:2

EVERLASTING CONTEMPT

The assumption here made by those who hold to an ongoing conscious torture view is that because the wicked are said to be raised to everlasting contempt, then this must clearly mean the wicked are tormented forever. But let’s look at this word contempt. You know where else we can read about it? Isaiah 66. Check it out:

15 For behold, the LORD will come in fire
         And His chariots like the whirlwind,
         To render His anger with fury,
         And His rebuke with flames of fire.

16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire
         And by His sword on all flesh,
         And those slain by the LORD will be many.

24 “Then they will go forth and look
         On the corpses of the men
         Who have transgressed against Me.
         For their worm will not die
         And their fire will not be quenched;
         And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”

The word “contempt” in Daniel 12:2 is the same exact word for “abhorrence” in Isaiah 66:24. In the case of Isaiah 66, the source of the contempt or abhorrence is NOT the wicked, it is those who weren’t killed who find them to be an abhorrence.

“…And they (the corpses of men who have transgressed against Me) will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”

Think of the way we might view Hitler, a man whose deeds and shame have followed him to the grave. And he is contemptuous and an abhorrence to almost anyone who knows about him, unless they are a skin head or Klan member. Even when I held to the ongoing conscious torment view, I never thought Daniel 12:2 was explicitly teaching ongoing post judgment pain. I thought it was contempt or abhorrence from God’s point of view.

This brings me to another term we see coupled with UNQUENCHABLE FIRE, found in Isaiah 66, and we read about it in Mark chapter 9. Starting in verse 47:

UNDYING WORM

47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 
Mark 9:47-48

The phrase I want to place focus on now is this “Worm” that “does not die.” The assumption made here by traditionalists is that this worm will live forever and can never die since it will be eating immortal people alive. Although it doesn’t say the worm can never die, only that it does not die, that is still the assumption. This assumption is actually kind of silly. I often thought of this verse when I was a traditionalist and tried to figure out exactly what was going to happen. Is the person’s body going to keep growing like a crab may regrow a limb? It sounds silly, but what are we to think? Unfortunately, I hadn’t done what I ought to have done – that is, look at what the Bible says about it. Jesus is quoting Isaiah chapter 66, and that’s all he does. Beginning in verse 16 –

16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.

17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, Will come to an end altogether,” declares the LORD.

24 “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.” 
Isaiah 66:16-17, 24

This scene depicts God’s judgment by fire that will slay a people (verse 16). They will “come to an end altogether” (verse 17). These will be corpses who had transgressed against God. It is corpses that the worms are eating. Not living people. An argument may arise from this saying that my position doesn’t allow Jesus to give a fuller meaning to the Old Testament Scriptures. I’m totally down for Jesus doing that, but He doesn’t do that in Mark chapter 9. He just quotes Isaiah 66. That’s it. We have no reason to believe from what He says that anything more is depicted. I don’t necessarily believe the end will be EXACTLY the way Isaiah depicts it. Isaiah is using prophetic language after all, but we can still gather clear information from it. God will destroy His enemies.

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16 thoughts on “Everlasting Contempt, Undying Worms, and Crab People”

  1. Hey Chris,

    1. “I’m totally down for Jesus doing that, but He doesn’t do that in Mark chapter 9. He just quotes Isaiah 66. That’s it. We have no reason to believe from what He says that anything more is depicted.”

    Is that ALL that Christ does? No. But let’s first look at your interpretive inconsistency.

    In the first place, you do not affirm that tearing one’s eyes out literally will get one into heaven. So you necessarily understand this part of the text to be speaking figuratively, as all orthodox Christians should.

    But, in the second place, when you come to Christ’s use of Isaiah you take His words here literalistically (this is a real word, btw, that is used by Biblical theologians – see Graham Goldsworthy discusses it briefly in his book “According to Plan” as do other Biblical theologians).

    What exegetical warrant do you have for believing that the dismemberment of a sinner’s body is to be taken figuratively, but the worms and unquenchable fire are to be taken literalistically?

    This is not ascertainable from the text.

    But leaving that aside, how can you say that Christ is doing nothing more, when the very fact that He is making a comparison between the two makes it evident that He is? Christ is moving from the lesser to the greater in this passage of Mark. If all of one’s being causes one to sin, then this would require one to completely kill himself. But if the killing of man by God is nothing but an elongated period of killing, then why is it “better” for man to kill himself than to be killed by God? Because men suffer for a shorter amount of time?

    I guess you could say that Christ is telling people to save themselves by suicide, since that will be faster than them being killed by God over a longer period of time, but this kind of makes God’s punishment useless.

    2. “I don’t necessarily believe the end will be EXACTLY the way Isaiah depicts it. Isaiah is using prophetic language after all, but we can still gather clear information from it. God will destroy His enemies.”

    But the text doesn’t allow for your interpretation. You can’t selectively say “All that stuff about eye-gouging and hand-chopping is just figurative” and then out of the other side of your mouth say “But Isaiah is literalistically referring to physical death and decomposition into nothingness or attomic particles, etc”

    What is your exegetical basis for reading the Scriptures in such a way?

    -h.

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    1. 1. I don’t take it literally. I said that in the article. I just don’t see how corpses being eaten by worms and fire = ongoing pain since corpses can’t feel anything. It’s crazy to say “worm that doesn’t die = worm that can never ever die” and “unquenchable fire = fire that can never ever go out.” I think I pointed out elsewhere in Scripture where unquenchable fire is used consistently with my position.

      My point in saying he does “nothing more” is just that. Christ doesn’t give us any reason to believe that anything more is meant by the worms or unquenchable passage. Is it speaking of final judgment? Yes. I’m not taking this lightly like, “Oh, worms, and fire.. .beh…” No, it will be horrific, tormentuous (which isn’t a word, but people use it anyways), disgusting, stomach turning I’m sure.

      2. Yah, that’s a strawman. I think both Isaiah and Jesus are speaking symbolically. Again. I look at corpses being eaten by worms and burned by fire and conclude that God will bring His enemies to an end. You see that and say, “Well, corpses means they are withdrawn from God, and they are being eaten alive by worm (or at least chewed on, since you can’t be done away with) and burned by fire but not consumed. Basically, continuous neverending pain.

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  2. 1. “I don’t take it literally. I said that in the article. I just don’t see how corpses being eaten by worms and fire = ongoing pain since corpses can’t feel anything.”

    How is this not a literal interpretation? If the corpses are symbolic, then why are you expecting the corpses to convey to the reader that corpses don’t feel anything?

    2′ “It’s crazy to say “worm that doesn’t die = worm that can never ever die” and “unquenchable fire = fire that can never ever go out.”

    It’s not “crazy.” It’s what the text is saying: “Their” refers to those who are being punished. “worm” refers to the manner of punishment. “does not die” refers to the nature of the worm: It does not die. That’s not crazy, it’s a pretty straightforward reading of what the text is saying.

    3. “I think I pointed out elsewhere in Scripture where unquenchable fire is used consistently with my position.”

    I don’t agree. As if you didn’t know that already. lol

    4. “My point in saying he does “nothing more” is just that. Christ doesn’t give us any reason to believe that anything more is meant by the worms or unquenchable passage.”

    But He does. He argues from the lesser to the greater. It is better for a millstone be tied around a sinner’s neck, etc. It is better to pluck one’s own eyes out. Etc. It is worse to be thrown into hell where the undying worm is and where the unquenchable fire is.
    This is a comparison that makes no real sense if the horrors of self-mutilation and capital punishment by drowning are just lesser forms of pain. The difference is what? The time that elapses between one death and another? Or is it the degree of suffering that exists between one death and another?

    A hell of this kind is nothing at all to be feared. I could just as well say: “It is better for a man to die by Carbon Monoxide poising than it is for him to be tortured by the Al Quaida and then eaten alive by ravenous wolves.” So what?

    5. “Is it speaking of final judgment? Yes. I’m not taking this lightly like, “Oh, worms, and fire.. .beh…” No, it will be horrific, tormentuous (which isn’t a word, but people use it anyways), disgusting, stomach turning I’m sure.”

    I don’t think you are all like, “Pfff whatever. Hell. haha” But I do think that Christ’s warning does not allow for such a reading since He is arguing from the lesser to teh greater. Physical suffering here on earth ends with the separation of body and spirit. But eternal death does not end. That, I believe, is the clear inference from God’s Words in Mark 9.

    6. “Yah, that’s a strawman. I think both Isaiah and Jesus are speaking symbolically. Again. I look at corpses being eaten by worms and burned by fire and conclude that God will bring His enemies to an end.”

    It’s not a strawman, technically speaking. I am saying this:

    You are interpreting one part in a literal manner (i.e. literal suffering in hell), and another in a figurative manner (i.e. figurative limb chopping, which is not literal suffering).

    I was being somewhat facetious, yes, but I didn’t present a strawman argument.

    Regarding what the symbols foretell, I don’t see how you can reconcile your own words to themselves.

    You say that the worms show us that the wicked will not a have any feeling, as they will be corpses.

    But then you say that it shows us that their end will be horrific, tormentuous (sp?).

    How do numb corpses present a picture of horror with respect to God’s judgment? If the body feels nothing because it is dead, then this passage of Scripture is divested of its force.

    The wicked would hear “Once you’re dead, a worm will eat your feeling-less body. And fire will reduce it to nothingness/particles/etc.”

    So what? The wicked will stop feeling this worm and fire. Why should they care? If your interpretation is correct, it would be a pretty weak threat.

    7. “You see that and say, “Well, corpses means they are withdrawn from God, and they are being eaten alive by worm (or at least chewed on, since you can’t be done away with) and burned by fire but not consumed. Basically, continuous neverending pain.”

    No, I don’t. I see these words and I say to myself:

    1. Christ is arguing from the lesser to the greater.
    2. If the worst punishments on earth come to an end, how much worse will the final punishment of the wicked be, seeing as they will not come to an end?
    3. Christ is quoting the OT and applying it eschatalogically. But the OT is to be understood in light of the New, not the other way around, so I should understand this passage typologically.
    4. Although Christ uses an image from the OT, that doesn’t mean that Christ’s meaning is identical to that of Isaiah – especially when the NT tells us that the OT applies to us and all men (via extension) typologically (cf. Romans 15:4 & 1st Corinthians 10:1-11).

    The bodies of the wicked will be raised, but they will suffer corruption – pain, loss, sorrow, etc/everything that falls to man under God’s curse. But the elect will experience none of those things ever again.

    The undying worm and unquenchable fire make sense in my understanding. They are pointless and powerless warnings about a temporarily elongated suffering in your view of things.

    -h.

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    1. 1. But here’s an inconsistency for you. You want to accuse me of making the text literally in some parts and others not. But you take the worms literally and the corpses not.

      2. You don’t get what I am saying. The text says “Does not die.” You are reading “Can’t die.” When Valley of Hinnom is described in the Old Testament, one description is that animals eat the corpses there and no one will scare them away. It’s the same type of language. Animals that are eating the corpses that will do their destructive work. I do take this literally in a sense, in that the people looking at the bodies are alive and the corpses are dead and being destroyed. I just think the imagery doesn’t do the actual event justice. This is a prophetic image of something that will be a worldwide reality. Will all bleievers be marching in a line looking at all of the corpses, and expressing their contempt? Highly doubt it.

      3. So God was really threatening the forest of the Negev with a fire that could never go out? Or the gates of Jerusalem with a fire that could never go out? In fact, I pointed to a Google search I did that spoke of Mexico’s “unquenchable fires.” Did that article intend to depict fire that could never go out? I know it isn’t Scripture, but the first two are.

      4. A hell of this kind is nothing at all to be feared. I could just as well say: “It is better for a man to die by Carbon Monoxide poising than it is for him to be tortured by the Al Quaida and then eaten alive by ravenous wolves.” So what?
      And I would say your reasoning is circular. You’re begging the question. The assertion is that for hell to be hell, it must be very fearful.” And of course, the standard for fear is your own reaction to the punishment described.

      5. “Physical suffering here on earth ends with the separation of body and spirit. But eternal death does not end. That, I believe, is the clear inference from God’s Words in Mark 9.”

      “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
      What do you think is the clear teaching here?

      6. How do numb corpses present a picture of horror with respect to God’s judgment? If the body feels nothing because it is dead, then this passage of Scripture is divested of its force.

      I don’t think the horror can only be horror if the one being eaten by worms feels it. I think the image in general is horrific. It doesn’t matter if the object of the judgment knows they are beign judged or feels pain or anything. It’s judgment from God’s vantage point.

      7. The bodies of the wicked will be raised, but they will suffer corruption – pain, loss, sorrow, etc/everything that falls to man under God’s curse. But the elect will experience none of those things ever again.
      I agree. But I don’t think the Scriptures teach they will experience these things forever and ever.

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  3. 1. “But here’s an inconsistency for you. You want to accuse me of making the text literally in some parts and others not. But you take the worms literally and the corpses not.”

    Who says? lol

    The view you espouse garbles up the Scriptures in this place, and I don’t think you can respond to this fact. You are reading dismemberment in a figurative manner that involves no pain, but you are reading the worm and the fire in a literal way that involves pain.

    But what is worse is that you believe that the imagery simply points to slain bodies that are stinky, rotting, decaying, being eaten by worms, etc, and yet that this is somehow a threat. How is it a threat to say that once one is dead a worm and a fire will “consume” (in the Fudgian sense) his remains? If I know that I am going to be annihilated, and you tell me “Dude, once you’ve croaked you’ll pass out of existence and then a worm and fire will feed on your lifeless carcass” would this be a threat? No, it would be totally irrelevant information. If a corpse feels nothing, then the worm and the fire would be irrelevant to me. Who cares?

    2. “You don’t get what I am saying.”

    No, I hear you loud and clear. I disagree, however 🙂

    3. “The text says “Does not die.” You are reading “Can’t die.”

    The text says:

    “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched…”

    I am reading:

    “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”

    I understand it to mean:

    “their worm has the inherent quality of not dying”

    3. “So God was really threatening the forest of the Negev with a fire that could never go out? Or the gates of Jerusalem with a fire that could never go out? In fact, I pointed to a Google search I did that spoke of Mexico’s “unquenchable fires.” Did that article intend to depict fire that could never go out? I know it isn’t Scripture, but the first two are.”

    God was threatening the forest of Negev with complete ruination. God was also threatening the gates of Jerusalem with complete ruination/devastation. I take into account the following: (a.)the OT is fully explicated/exegeted/understood in light of the NT, not the other way around, (b.)the OT judgments are literal and typological, (c.)the language of the OT can often have a flexible semantic range that allows for multiple fulfillment without contradiction (e.g. the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 in the time of Isaiah and completely fulfilled in Christ, the word translated as virgin in the NT is also capable of being translated as “young maiden”).

    The unquenchable fire of God’s wrath is not just a fire taht cannot be stopped, but a fire that does not ever go out. I try to understand Scripture in its proper grammatical-historical-redemptive context, as Christ and His apostles did.

    4.”And I would say your reasoning is circular. You’re begging the question. The assertion is that for hell to be hell, it must be very fearful.” And of course, the standard for fear is your own reaction to the punishment described.”

    No, Chris, I’m not reasoning in a circular fashion. Christ is warning his hearers about the Hell that awaits God’s enemies. His intention is to cause them to fear their end if they are God’s enemies.

    The standard for fear is the one that Christ gives: Physical dismemberment and captial punishment by drowning are small-fries compared to what awaits the reprobate. It’s not a subjective standard; it is Christ’s standard.

    5. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
    What do you think is the clear teaching here?”

    The clear teaching is that man shouldn’t fear being put to death by other men; man should fear the wrath of God which is far worse than the wrath of man.

    6. “I don’t think the horror can only be horror if the one being eaten by worms feels it. I think the image in general is horrific. It doesn’t matter if the object of the judgment knows they are beign judged or feels pain or anything. It’s judgment from God’s vantage point.”

    No, it does matter. Christ is warning His hearers about Hell. If He is, then He is doing so with the intention of showing them the awfulness of what awaits them. If the worm and the fire are eating a lifeless corpse, and that is judgment from God, then there is nothing to fear, there is nothing to be warned about, for the corpses of the reprobate listening to Christ at the moment would not be aware of the worm or the fire. Your view, once again, completely divests the text of its force, and I would say its meaning as well.

    7. “I agree. But I don’t think the Scriptures teach they will experience these things forever and ever.”

    I know 🙂

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    1. 1. It is a threat to depraved men. The threat is, “You’re dead meat.” How is that not a threat? Most men don’t even like being told they are wrong about the weather, let alone that they are depraved and that God will slay them one day. This is like the Arminian argument, “If God elects, why evangelize?” Well, what bearing does that have on the Scriptures. That’s a philosophical argument, not Biblical. Your insides turning is not the gauge by which we determine what is true and not true.

      3. Yah, I hear you. But, that doesn’t mean that every single phrase or word changes.

      4. Yah, the fate of the wicked is a fearful thing. But you are requiring a level a fear that must be there. That’s circular, because unless that level of fear is there, then, in your mind (it seems), it can’t be what Christ is talking about.

      5. And the word destroy? Is there no connection between the two destroys?

      6. Yes, but hell isn’t a life lesson he wants them to experience and learn from. So it doesn’t matter what their view of the judgment is when they are being judged. Millions of folks will be poured into the Lake of Fire who have never heard of Christ or the worm or fire or anything. They’ll still be judged. And I’m not even saying they will be killed without understanding their offenses. I don’t think the worm and fire are the judgment. The death beforehand is.

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  4. 1. “This is like the Arminian argument, “If God elects, why evangelize?” Well, what bearing does that have on the Scriptures. That’s a philosophical argument, not Biblical. Your insides turning is not the gauge by which we determine what is true and not true.”

    Dude. It’s nothing like that. The Arminian argument isn’t Scriptural; my argument is Scriptural. Christ is saying cut off your hand, gouge out your eyes, mutilate yourselves, for temporal suffering for righteousness is small fries compared to eternal suffering for one’s sins.

    The Lord Jesus is Himself making this comparison in the text.

    Suffer now in cutting off your hand, or suffer forever in Hell.

    I’m not arguing that Christ’s words are pointless unless someone’s insides are churning. I am arguing that Christ’s threat makes no sense on the annihilationist interpretation.

    If you don’t agree with me, I need to see how the Lord Christ is not arguing in that manner.

    2. “Yah, the fate of the wicked is a fearful thing. But you are requiring a level a fear that must be there. That’s circular, because unless that level of fear is there, then, in your mind (it seems), it can’t be what Christ is talking about. ”

    No. I’m not arguing in a circle. See above.

    3. “And the word destroy? Is there no connection between the two destroys?”

    If you mean physical destruction and eternal destruction, then there is a connection between the two. But I don’t know if that’s what you’re asking…

    4. “Yes, but hell isn’t a life lesson he wants them to experience and learn from. So it doesn’t matter what their view of the judgment is when they are being judged. Millions of folks will be poured into the Lake of Fire who have never heard of Christ or the worm or fire or anything. They’ll still be judged. And I’m not even saying they will be killed without understanding their offenses. I don’t think the worm and fire are the judgment. The death beforehand is.”

    It’s hard to know how to respond to this, Chris.

    In the first place, I’m not saying that Hell is a life lesson to experience and learn from. Christ is making a comparison between suffering now for one’s sins (which is temporal) and suffering in eternity (which, well, is eternal).

    Secondly, I know that there will be millions who will go to Hell who have not heard the Words of Scripture. But that is irrelevant. We are talking about the text and what it means. We are talking about what Christ meant to signify by the words and images He chose.

    The worm and fire are necessarily the judgment, dude. The context demands it, as Christ is comparing the temporal loss of limbs, even of one’s life, to the eternal loss of eternal life.

    -h.

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    1. 1. “Dude. It’s nothing like that. The Arminian argument isn’t Scriptural; my argument is Scriptural. Christ is saying cut off your hand, gouge out your eyes, mutilate yourselves, for temporal suffering for righteousness is small fries compared to eternal suffering for one’s sins.”

      Of course it is. One is dismemberment, and the other is death. Would you rather cut off your hand, or get the electric chair? Go around and ask random people that question. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on people saying they’d rather cut off their hand. And that’s just the chair. That’s not facing the judgment of the fury fo God’s fire.

      “If you don’t agree with me, I need to see how the Lord Christ is not arguing in that manner.”

      I haven’t denied that he’s arguing from lesser to greater. You just assume that greater must mean ongoing torture.

      3. Is there a connection between the definition of destruction of the body and the definition of destroying the soul and body in the end?

      4. “The worm and fire are necessarily the judgment, dude. The context demands it, as Christ is comparing the temporal loss of limbs, even of one’s life, to the eternal loss of eternal life.”

      Actually, Mark 9 is the only place this appears in the gospels. And it’s not even in all the manuscripts. Look what Johnny Mac says: “The better Greek manuscripts omit these verses, which merely repeat the quote from Isa. 66 found in verse 48.” Really this passage just mentions being thrown into hell, and more than likely some translators along the line just tagged Isa 66 in there. We are really just arguing something like the snake handling verses or the pericope adulterae. But either way, I agree that it’s comparing something lesser to greater. He says, “Option 1 – cut limb or eye. Option 2 – be cast into “hell.” Then, he tags “where the worms and fire, etc.” I guess I shouldn’t have said that the worms and fire can’t be the punishment. God could certainly use them as punishment. But again, what do these two things naturally do? Consume.

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  5. Regarding #1, I wouldn’t want to experience either. lol
    I understand your point here, but I think it is not relevant to what Christ is proclaiming.

    As for the lesser to the greater, I don’t just assume it, I am looking at the words of the text: cut hand off or be eaten by a worm that does not die and be burned by a fire that is not quenched.

    Once your hand is chopped off, and you stump is cauterized, the pain ends.
    Once your eye is poked out, and replaced with a cue ball or something, the pain ends.
    The worm stays (this reminds me, btw, of Ren and Stimpy) and feeds on you, and he don’t die. Comparison?

    Earthly pain comes to an end; the pain of God’s wrath does not.

    I know we don’t agree here, so I don’t see the point of further going in circles here, but I’ll just say that the lesser–>greater does not make sense if both hand chopping and God’s wrath come to an end.

    To answer your question regarding the destruction of the body etc. Yes. Hence, Isaiah is destroyed in God’s presence in Isaiah 6. He is saturated with terror and horror because he is standing in the presence of Christ who is without sin, and he sees his own wretchedness. Isaiah says that he is “undone” (Heb. דָּמָה [damah]) – he is destroyed, cut off, fallen apart, one could say, shattered to pieces.

    The same word דָּמָה is used in contexts where physical destruction is clearly indicated. The relationship between the two, however, is not one of identity, but one of analogy. Isaiah’s destruction is analogous to the destruction of a city in that they are both ruined, undone, rendered useless, etc.

    The application of words like “destroy” “perish” etc to the body and the soul (cf. Matt 10:28) does not make any sense in the annihlationist position. The body and the soul, in Scripture, are not destroyed in the same way. Isaiah, as I’ve noted, is destroyed by the presence of God, but this is not a physical destruction. It is spiritual destruction. The bodies of the wicked will be destroyed, yes, but does this entail their extinction? If it did then we have no Scriptural basis for saying that it would also destroy their souls, for these two types of destruction are different.

    The term, then, must function analogically, signifying something that is common to both the body and the soul. Both the body and the soul, likewise, undergo corruption, but this corruption is different for body and for soul. The body decomposes, the soul grows more and more morally depraved (with no end in sight, btw). If both undergo corruption, then, it cannot be the literalistic corruption of the annihilationists, for the soul doesn’t undergo the same corruption that the body does. The word, again, is used analogically. The corruption that the body and soul undergo must apply to both body and soul. Annihilationism doesn’t account for this, nor can it.

    One could embrace the further heresy of physicalism in order to remove this difficulty, but that would put one completely outside the Christian faith.

    I’ll be writing on GA for a while, it seems, on this topic. So if you want to talk more, check me out there 🙂

    -h.

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    1. Yah, I don’t really want to go in circles either. I really appreciate talking to you though, as always – especially since I’m off Facebook now. I’ll def plan to read your stuff on Grassroots.

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      1. Uh guys….I’m as confused as ever… What is hell then? And what happens to the soul of a sinner when he/she dies?

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      2. Elisha,

        Check out the “articles” section of the site to read what I’ve put together on this topic.

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  6. Luke 16:19-31
    New International Version (NIV)
    The Rich Man and Lazarus

    19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

    22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

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    1. Elisha,

      The purpose of the story of the rich man and Lazarus was not to teach about what hell is like. The “punch-line” of the story is Abraham telling the rich man that men (his brothers) wouldn’t believe even if a dead man was raised. Instead, they had the Scriptures. Notice the context of Jesus’ telling of the story – “14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:14-15).

      To the Pharisees, the rich man was obviously the “saved” one because of how blessed he was, and the poor beggar was the one who wasn’t blessed. Jesus turned that around on them and was essentially teaching justification by faith alone.

      But, let’s grant your assertion that this is Jesus painting a literal picture of hell. It isn’t the “lake of fire” because even hell is thrown into the lake of fire at the end. The rich man’s brothers were still alive on earth. So, at the very least, if this is a literal story, then it only describes an intermediate state before the final judgment.

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      1. Chris,
        Thanks a lot for the reply. I seem to understand that this is what Jesus was warning about when He said that we should cut our right hand if it causes us to sin and so on,right? What happens to the people in the lake of fire then? Would it be different from hell?
        Thanks.
        (p.s. are you on Facebook or something? ..:)..It would be good if you were.)

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  7. Elisha,

    to be clear, I DO believe that the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire. I’ve gotten accused before of “not believing in hell” and stuff like that. It’s not true. I do. The difference is that I don’t believe it is ongoing conscious torture. I believe that the Scriptures teach that the lake of fire is a place of torment, and perhaps people will even suffer differently, but eventually they will no longer be conscious. God will destroy all of His enemies once and for all. Yes, I’m on Facebook – you can send me a request here:

    https://www.facebook.com/protest.station

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